Can consumer advocates and competitors go to court over possible data protection violations by companies? The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in Karlsruhe is now dealing with this question in several proceedings. Whether the top civil judges will already pass judgment is an open question.
On the one hand, there is the question of whether consumer advice centers can sue Facebook independently of the users affected. In the other two cases, competing pharmacists argue about products offered on Amazon.
ECJ decision as a basis
However, the Luxembourg judges only ruled on the legal standing of associations entitled under national law: According to the ruling, these can go to court in the event of data protection violations by Internet giants instead of the users - even if they have no specific order from those affected. The ECJ did not comment on the question of a competitor's standing to sue.
Free games as a data trap?
Specifically, the alleged violations on Facebook are about the fact that free games from third parties are presented in the platform's "App Center", in which users, at least in the 2012 version, can automatically click on "Play immediately" to transmit various games data to the game operator would have agreed. For one game, the notices ended with the phrase, "This application may post status updates, photos, and more on your behalf." The district court and the Berlin Court of Appeal had agreed with the consumer advocates.
In the other cases, pharmacists turn against a competitor who offers products for sale on the Amazon website. The competition criticizes, for example, that he did not obtain consent for the collection and processing of personal data during the ordering process. The Higher Regional Court of Naumburg followed the reasoning on both occasions.